Community partnerships C.A.N. make a difference

By: Mark Mitchell
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

NECD bustles with new renovations, projects and support efforts, all aimed at making the community better for its residents.  Durham C.A.N. (Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods), a community outreach group that fights social, racial and political injustices first in Durham, then in the state has been helping NECD for years.

Members of Durham C.A.N. rally in Raleigh to fight for an increase in veteran’s benefits. (Photo courtesy of Durham C.A.N.)

Durham C.A.N was founded in 2000 by Gerald Taylor and Ivan Parra, who saw the need for the residents of Durham to have a voice loud enough for people of power and authority to listen.  That’s when they got the idea to use protest and community outreach as their platform to reach not only Durham residents, put politicians and lawmaker’s statewide.

They claim to be the oldest and largest congregation-based, community organizing network in the United States.

Durham C.A.N.’s main office is located in the heart of NECD on 1928 Holloway St.  The staff is modest; with two lead community organizers in the office, a secretary, and some interns (depending on the time of year and budgeting).

The organization uses an innovative approach to decide which issues to tackle. Community meetings are held weekly where people talk about current events, reforms, and economic problems that pose challenges to Durham and its residents.  After these meetings, Durham C.A.N. creates platforms and plans of action.

Parra has been instrumental in helping Durham C.A.N achieve its vision of making NECD and beyond a better community for its residents.

“The biggest relief effort I believe we’ve made was raising over $1 million private and public dollars in just eight weeks to help 600 children and provide daycare service for them so their parents wouldn’t have to go without,” says Parra. “That just goes to show how much we can do if everyone can get on the same page and work towards a common goal. We use a lot of tactics that were common during the Civil Rights movement as well.  We aren’t radical, we just believe we have to make people listen because if we don’t speak out against injustice, who will?”

Community organizer Gregory K. Moss has been working with Durham C.A.N for almost two years and is ecstatic about the progress he has seen in such a short period of time.

“It started off with Gerald, Ivan, and myself, but I quickly saw how strong NECD can be when given direction, and a plan of action,” says Moss. “My first rally made me really care about the issues affecting this community and I’m not even from this area.”

Moss, a senior at N.C. Central University, feels that new voter registration and immigration reform are among the most pressing issues now.

To learn more about Durham C.A.N. or how you “C.A.N” contribute, call Durham C.A.N at (919)225-1673, or visit their website at www.